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tv   Hardball With Chris Matthews  MSNBC  March 4, 2010 12:00am-1:00am EST

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at this point. the best he can do is turn some democratic nos into yeses and keep some yeses from becoming nos. tonight we have one congressman who can help, bart stupak of michigan. plus, incumbents beware. the rick perry wipeout of kay bailey hutchison in texas yesterday was good news for the tea party types and bad news for incumbents everywhere. at least in the primaries. this november will voters throw out the bums or go after the democrats? also republican congressman paul ryan wants to get rid of social security and medicare as we know it. what is his plan to change them and what would that be like? that's my question for him tonight. the returns are in from last night's republican comedy primary. sarah palin on leno versus mitt romney on letterman. who won? we check the results in "the sideshow." finally, in my "let me finish commentary," i tell you why i think the president is right to push for health care
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reform now. let's start with president obama's final push for held care reform and the man who could make it happen in the house. bart stupak of michigan. sir, let's watch the president. here he was today making what looks to be his final push for health care. let's listen. >> everything there is to say about health care has been said, and just about everybody has said it. i, therefore, ask leaders in both houses of congress to finish their work and schedule a vote in the next few weeks. from now until then i will do everything in my power to make the case for reform. and i -- [ applause ] >> congressman stupak, you are one of the -- in fact you are the leader on the issue of being pro-life as a democrat, funding to keep in a restriction or a ban, rather, on the use of federal money. the hyde amendment, to keep it
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in effect in regard to this legislation. how is that fight going now? is there any way to reconcile the concerns of other democrats with the concerns of the pro-lifers? >> sure, chris. i think we can reconcile those concerns. i, like, the president, would like to see health care passed. affordable health care for all americans. i voted for it. i want to see it again. the president has stated publicly and addressed the nation on september 9th there would be no federal funding for abortion so i'm willing to work with the president to see his words ring true. >> let's look at house speaker nancy pelosi at blair house last week. let's listen. see if you agree. >> leader boehner? the law of the land is there is no public funding of abortion and there is no public funding of abortion in these bills i don't want the listeners or viewers to get the wrong impression from what you said? >> is the speaker correct? >> no. the speaker is incorrect. in the senate bill, that's what they're telling us the vehicle we're using, in the senate bill
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it says you must offer insurance policies that will be paid for by the federal government that covers abortion. you must do so. also in that same language, if you come in the senate version, in the opm, office of personnel management policies they will be putting forth, you must pay every enrollee must pay $1 per month into a fund to help fund abortions. it's very clear. i direct the speaker's attention to pages 33 to page 34 of the senate bill as written in the senate and passed on christmas eve. >> so according to your reading of the bill that's passed the senate which the house is going to have to vote on in the next couple of weeks insurance covers abortion services? >> that's what it insures. we will not vote for that type of legislation. the majority of the house has spoken. we will not support legislation that has public funding for abortion. you know, chris, the president said, okay, here is four or five proposals he is doing today. what we are voting on can't be the senate bill.
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it has to be a conglomeration or compromise. so, look, we are willing to work with him. let's keep current law which says no public funding for abortion. there are at least eight programs, department of defense, children's health initiative, medicare, medicaid, you name it, that says no public funding for abortion. let's keep the current law. i'm working with the president and speaker to do that. >> here is what i want to understand, well, i want to understand because i want this reconciled like a lot of people do. it seems to me that hyde is pretty clear. the hyde amendment carried on every spending bill. why can't you attach it to another bill, to any or all of the upcoming appropriations bill this year or a continuing resolution and include in the language on something that would get a majority because the republicans would all vote for it in that case. when you get 218, the required number of majority votes, on any measure later this year and get nancy pelosi to approve that guaranteed promise that there will be a rider attached to
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every spending will henceforth that says the hyde amendment is still in effect on all federal legislation. could you do that? >> as long as it dealt with under this act, this health care proposal act. you're right. hyde applies only to appropriation bills. this will be a new act that will be creating health care for americans. it has to be in this act. this act is not necessarily an appropriation bill. it is an enacting legislation. as long as they put the language in it -- >> can you pass it as part of another bill so you can get republicans? the problem you know is mr. stupak, you know, congressman, the problem is the math. to get hyde passed you need a lot of republican votes to get it, to pass it, if you had an up-or-down vote on hyde. no republicans are going to vote for it. none are going to vote for this health care bill. how can you get hyde to pass as a ride ever, a separate vote in this case unless you jam it down the throats of the pro-choicers? >> it would have be a separate bill tie barred to the final
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health care bill. you could do it that way, chris. you could tie bar it to the final health care bill. you could do it that way. >> what does that mean? >> one bill doesn't pass without the other. they go jointly together. they walk down the aisle together and have that vote. two separate votes but tied together. >> would republicans vote for that or would they say that would be helping health care pass? >> good question. but the principle for myself and the republicans, i think, is greater and they would vote for it. >> okay. let me ask you this. has the speaker responded to that proposal, tie barring these? >> no, they have not. >> have you offered it? >> yes. i talked to people -- yes. we have had discussions and here is one way we could do it. yes. >> okay. well, thank you. let me ask you about eric cantor. he is trying to fish in troubled waters here. the republican whip, he is the ramrod on that side of the aisle. he's loving the fact that you're in dispute. this is an issue of conscience.
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i completely understand. he is singling out you and a list of 12 other members including the republican from louisiana, from new orleans, who voted. he's in jefferson's district. it's a democratic district. he's now switching the other way. is this an accurate list of people who will vote against the senate version if it comes up because it doesn't have the restriction on abortion? >> i haven't seen the list, chris. but it is accurate to say there are at least 12 of us who voted for health care who have indicated to the leadership and others that unless you fix this abortion language we can't vote for a final version of the bill. >> what do you think the speaker meant when she made that statement the law of the land is there is no public funding of abortion in these bills? what does she mean? i mean, trying to understand her, what does she mean? does she mean the government doesn't buy and pay doctors for abortion? that is simply pays for insurance premiums that will then cover abortion?
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what jesuital language are you accusing her of? >> go to the pages i cited. every ep rollee in the opm must pay $1 per month for reproductive rights which include abortion. not only are you talking about abortion coverage in insurance policies but now you are asking everyone to enroll in this plan and pay $1 per month into a fund to pay for abortion. you are making the insurance companies provide and it and making people pay for it. she is wrong. >> do you believe the democratic party, the majority of the party you're in, is willing to go down in defeat on the major legislative issue of this presidency because of its pro-choice position? >> no. >> you don't think they are willing to go down in defeat? >> no. if you look at the pro-choice letter that diana degette and others claim they have 45
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signatures on, if you read that letter very carefully it says we must maintain current law. current law. that is all the stupak amendment does. maintain current law. take my name off it. call the hyde amendment. just maintain current law. >> i know what the law says. >> put it in the health care act and we're okay. >> i don't understand why they don't deliver. let me ask you this. are you willing to bring down the house on the issue of life? >> well, look, we're going to do what we have to do. we are not compromising on this issue. we've gone as far as we can. they know that. we're not -- i want to see health care as much as the president and the speaker, but this is a principle and belief that the only bill, the only amendment ever had a vote was this one, it is bipartisan, we want to see it. we want it passed. we want to see health care. >> thank you. it is a hot issue, congressman. i appreciate you coming on to start "hardball" tonight. this is the issue i think could make or break health care reform. thank you bart stupak of michigan, a democrat. coming up, rick perry wins the republican nomination in
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texas over kay bailey hutchison. he smashes her. he gets a majority vote. he is the guy that talks secession like a wild man. is his victory a wake-up call to all incumbents? if you can get elected talking secession from washington, imagine if you were just running against it. or are the only people really vulnerable are the moderate republicans in the primary and the democrats in november? let's see what happens. where are all my apps?! i don't know. this download's taking forever. is that right? what is this? where's my cool phone? so, don't dumb down your smartphone. choose the nation's fastest 3g network. [ indistinct shouting, glass shatters ] oh boy, it was just an experiment. [ male announcer ] when you compare, there's no comparison. at&t. a better 3g experience. buy any smartphone after mail-in rebate and get any messaging phone free after mail-in rebate.
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up at the u.s. capitol the leaders of the house and senate gathered in statuary hall, the old house chamber, to pay tribute to the late jack murtha, my friend, by the way, the longtime congressman from pennsylvania. here's part of what vice president joe biden said about congressman murtha of pennsylvania. >> the part i liked about him the best, he was one standup son of a gun. he was just a stand up guy, man. he knew what it meant to give at the office. he was a guy who when you made a deal and his circumstances
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changed at home and it would hurt him to keep it like the guys in this front row, he said i get it. i made a deal, a deal is a deal. it hurts me. i'm keeping the deal. >> the guys in the front row, were the pennsylvania, the old-breed guys. i actually really like these guys. jack murtha deeply missed. both in washington and back home in western pennsylvania. out in the mountains of pennsylvania, a lot of poor people, democrats who care about the country. anyway, that was jack murtha today. (announcer) we're in the energy business. but we're also in the showing-kids- new-worlds business.
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there were a string of victories that have come along lately. there was victory in new jersey, there was a victory in virginia, there was a victory in massachusetts. and now there has been a victory in texas. and i think the message is pretty clear. conservatism has never been stronger than it is today. >> wow. welcome back to "hardball."
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that was texas governor rick perry talking about his primary victory as if it was a general election victory over democrats. victory over kay bailey hutchison who he just treated like a democrat in that primary. what does he mean and what does this win mean to the country? wayne slater sr., for the dallas morning news and, well, alex burns is deputy political editor for politico. i want you to watch something from rick perry, more of his impassioned victory speech just to set the mood today. then i'm going to give you a little treat here. here is first of all governor perry. >> we're taking our country back. one vote at a time, one election at a time. >> and we're taking our country back, one election at a time. one vote at a time. does that remind you of anything? here's what it reminded me of. let's listen. >> as those boys took back the streets of los angeles block by block, my friends, we must take
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back our cities and take back our culture and take back our country. god bless you, and god bless america. >> well, perry made the same point elsewhere in the speech about taking the country back block by block. let's take a look at the trouble spots in the country. i want to see if you think these people are going to face the same result. there are four open seats in delaware, illinois, north dakota and indiana. there are four incumbent democrats in trouble, blanche lincoln in arkansas, harry reid out in nevada, arlen specter in pennsylvania. michael bennett out in colorado. even in california, barbara boxer could face tough competition this november, running real close in the polls for her. is this thing that's going on down there in texas going to go on elsewhere, wayne? >> absolutely it is. you know, there are a couple of messages that came out of texas last night. one is, the message is, it's washington, stupid. and any politician running for
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office, primary or general election, democrat or republican, doesn't recognize that now is in for a rude awakening. the other one is more subtle. it's whoever you are, define your opponent before your opponent defines you. the person who can define your opponent better than you can define -- who defines yourself before you're defined by your opponent is a winner. i think about rob portman in ohio. this is a guy, if i were he i would say i've never been east of marietta, ohio. even though he was bush's trade representative and so forth. i think it's a message that will resound across the country. >> you know, i'm beginning to think, alex, jimmy carter was elected president by saying, i'm not a lawyer. i've never really been to washington and that worked back then. are we going full circle now? if you can claim you're a virgin politically, you have no knowledge of any other politician, you've never been to a meeting, never held an office, you're clean as a whistle.
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you're perfect for the voters this year. >> sure. it certainly helps particularly if you're entirely separate from washington. governor perry, longest serving governor in the state's history. he managed to make the federal bailout an issue in gubernatorial primary. that's not a texas specific issue. by painting kay bailey hutchison, person out of touch with state values, gone to washington and supported presidents who people were disenchanted with. he managed to just sort of get to a basic trust issue and whether folks wanted her in charge of their state. >> i'm looking out right now, let me go back, wayne, you have got incumbent democrats in trouble nationally. you mentioned some republicans who have to proof their innocence, basically, of washington. you have harry reid coming out in nevada. any one of his three opponents can beat him right now. arlen specter i found out early today for the first time pulled ahead of his opponent. i'm sure pat toomey is going to give him a hell of a fight. michael bennett, appointed senator out in colorado.
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it seems to me everybody is vulnerable now to anybody who can come along and say, it wasn't me that done it. i remember ronald reagan used to say, i'll admit i'm irresponsible when they admit they're responsible which i thought was a great line, twabl. >> it's going to be really hard for blanche lincoln to say i don't know anything about washington, d.c. even for democrats like blanch lincoln or harry reid. for democrats to recognize the sensitivity of voters at home, that they're anxious about the economy, that the washington -- concern over washington spend is not a trumped up issue by republicans alone. there is something real about that. and to try to deal with that even if you're a democrat is important. it's not going to be a good year for democrats. i think we know that and this anti-washington animus is going to contribute to that. no question. >> let's run through the calendar right now, alex. you first. we've got this fight, grayson
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and ran paul. ran paul is red hot. his father's ron paul. he could really do the job there out in kentucky. that's the first big shot coming up in may. >> it certainly looks like rand paul has a shot there. tray grayson running as the hand-picked candidate of mitch mcconnell. a couple years ago that might have been huge asset in kentucky to have a blessing of a machine like that. trey grayson has attacked rand paul saying, look, this guy is not from kentucky, he's not one of us. he's sort of an outsider and rand paul is saying, you know, you're darn right i'm an outsider. >> outside of the state is better than -- as long as you're outside washington. let me go to the florida race. i've watched this one term very fast down south. pat buchanan loves this guy. mark rubio. he's former speaker down there and rotating speakership down there. this guy, charlie crist, looked unbeatable a year ago like kay bailey hutchison looked like a
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formidable candidate with great reviews, numbers. numbers don't seem to mean anything once the tea party crowd go after you. >> more than any other race i think florida is the one that mirrors what happened in texas. you're right. charlie crist, who would have thought he would be in trouble? he's in horrible trouble, essentially marco rubio emerges, interesting, exciting, gets the tea party crowd behind him and frames crist, talks about crist, essentially some liberal -- political liberal who has no business being in the race. it is amazing to see the sitting governor like charlie crist behind the eight ball like this. it is part of this dynamic. same thing we saw in texas and if i were crist i would study this texas primary, say what the heck can i do about this? >> he might ask for florida to secede from the union, too. by the way, guys, i don't think you can pull -- let me try alex on this. i don't think you can pull this secession number above the mason dixon line. i thinks that has a peculiar geographic appeal. i don't think ohio can secede from the union.
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these guys fought for the union. i don't think it's credible. can you promise to be that anti-washington up north? >> you mentioned the delaware senate race as a place where republicans might have momentum going forward. it's hard to imagine mike castle, veteran congressman, former governor of that state charging out of the gate saying we're done with this whole united states thing. there is still this feeling washington is out of touch even in places like that. as you mentioned we saw that in massachusetts. >> let's take a state that's neither north nor south. it's arizona and the big enchilada in terms of national media. august 24th john mccain has to trudge through the summer. it's hot in arizona in august. he has to get renominated against j.d. hayworth. i noticed the tea party organization is out in arizona have decided to stay neutral. what's that mean, alex? >> well, i think, chris, the fact of the matter is j.d. haywor hayworth, as much as he's running as this outsider, wants to align himself with the tea party movement, he was an appropriator in washington,
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himself. you have folks like dick armey generally sympathetic to primary challengers saying this guy was an earmarker when he was in congress so doesn't fit the mold of the perfect candidate here. >> this is wild stuff. it's a wildfire out there. wayne slater i cannot believe rick perry the secessionist won such a big race. i'm sure he's glad to hear me say that. i don't get him. wayne slater. thank you. alex burns, i love politico. up next, preview or the 2012 race on late night tv. mitt romney on letterman and i think sarah beat his butt on leno. the highlights next on "the sideshow." ♪ (announcer) right now, all over the country, discover card customers are getting five percent cashback bonus at grocery stores. it pays to get more,
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back to "hardball." now for "the sideshow." first there is no business like show business. sarah palin did a standup routine on jay leno's "tonight show." here's sarah. >> i watched the winter olympics, skiing, fighting on the ice, skating, bobsledding. in alaska that is our morning commute. and how about that amazing closing ceremony. it was beautiful. the minute i saw the giant moose i remembered i hadn't cooked anything for the kids' dinner. but, jay, thank you so much for inviting me. i saw where it has been a few weeks of unfair nonstop criticism. people who don't know the real story. i say, jay, welcome to my world. >> all right. sarah palin. thank you, sarah. >> over on cbs, all dave and mitt romney could talk about was
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that guest, sarah palin, over on "leno." here they are. >> it sounds to me like you are going to run for president again in 2012? >> no plans for that at this point. i'll keep the door open. >> of course he is running. >> are you available? are you available, david? >> i can tell by the cologne. what about that sarah palin, she's not ready to be president, is she? >> she's terrific. she really is. she's terrific. she's got energy, passion, by the way, be careful what you say about her, by the way. >> i've had my -- i've had mine. >> she has a rifle, you know. >> got it. >> i'm not sure romney knew what those two had been through. dave and sarah. did you hear romney sing out the praises of sarah palin? that is the name of the game in the republican party. whatever they say about her in private which is somewhat different, they are gushing over her in public. why? because she may not run and she would have all the power in the
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world to help or hurt any one of the guys who do run. watch the way they treat her lately. next, a call to arms funny or die is out there with a new video talking about financial regulatory reform. this is a riot. the premise, ghosts of president's past invade barack obama's dreams. we start off with george w. and bill clinton. >> you two are the ones who stripped out all the regulations. why would i want advice from you? >> dude, it was the '90s, people did all kinds of crazy things. >> besides when i put the iraq war on my credit card i never dreamed i would pay 28% interest rates. it is astronomical. >> yeah. if you listened to me you would have raised taxes. >> yeah, then i would have had one term. >> yeah, that second term of yours was a real victory lapper, wasn't it, dubbers? >> you are saying i should take
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on the banks and their trillions of dollars. how is this helpful? >> it's a bitch. it's a bitch, but as george washington once said to john adams, tag, you are it. >> that is one talented group of guys. anyway, too true. speaking of presidents past, it's time for with the the number" tonight. republican congressman patrick mchenry of north carolina announced new legislation that would have the treasury department replace ulysses s. grant's face on the $50 bill. who would take his place? ronald reagan. he would take away the honor from the general who saved the union. hmm, that's a smart move. he has 13 co-sponsors. reagan faithful want to put reagan's face on the $50 note. no more to be said tonight. tonight's "big number." i happen to like grant. coming up next, lots of politicians talk about cutting spending, balancing the budget
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and reining in the deficit. one u.s. congressman intent on doing it, republican paul ryan from wisconsin. i think he is the president's favorite republican, sort of. he has a specific plan to do it. he has drastic steps to do it, change social security and medicare and rein in entitlement programs that costs more than the government brings in in taxes. congressman ryan next on "hardball," only on msnbc. a day. and we've made a tremendous amount of progress. you know, safety and reliability is top priority. i mean i got a family, too. i got a mother, a grandmoth, kids, nd we all drive in tse cs. i am 100% confident in the product. male announcer ] we're grateful to technicians like ronny who are helpings provide you with fe and reliae vehicles. for mo information, please visit provide you with fe and reliae vehicles. ♪ (announcer) right now, all over the country, discover card customers are getting five percent cashback bonus at grocery stores. it pays to get more,
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i'm lynn berry, here's what's happening. a magnitude 6.4 earthquake rocked a mountainous region of ta juan wednesday night. taipei reported sudden power outages and swaying skyscrapers. no serious injuries reported. the senate rejected president obama's propose to provide a $250 bonus to social security recipients to make up for the lack of cost of living increase this year. the suspect in the rape and murder of 17-year-old chelsea king pleaded not guilty in a california courtroom wednesday. john albert gardner could face the death penalty if convicted. a new york city air traffic controller has been suspended after bringing two people into the tower at jfk airport and letting them speak to pilots. a rogue wave smashed into the window of a dining area in a
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ship in the mediterranean sea. now back to "hardball." welcome back to "hardball." president obama has tried to find agreement at least in principle with some republicans, even when his party line is disagreement to him. he singled out paul ryan at the republicans' retreat from baltimore. let's listen to what the president said then. >> i think paul, for example, head of the budget committee, looked at the budget and has made a serious proposal. i've read it. i can tell you what's in it. and there's some ideas in there i would agree with but there's some ideas that we should have a healthy debate about because i don't agree with. >> last week congressman ryan agreed to disagree at the blair
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house health care meeting with the president. let's listen to the congressman this time. >> when you take a look at this, it is deeper than the deficits or the budget gimmicks or the actuarial analysis. there really is a difference between us. we've been talking about different issues. there really is a difference between us. it is basically this. we don't think the government should be in control of all of this. >> was congressman ryan right? is that the most important difference of all? paul ryan joins us now. he's a top republican, ranking member, not chairman of the committee as the president designated him a moment ago on the budget committee. thank you very much. i worked on the budget committee for a long time. i know the problems. i went looking at the numbers yesterday. it is not just we have a deficit of $1.6 trillion. it is that the numbers are completely out of whack. we have $3.8 million in spending and $2.1 million in receipts. it's almost 2-1 now the government spending more money than it's bringing in.
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if you add up all the taxes, payroll, income, everything, it doesn't touch the cost of the entitlements. >> that's right. >> we are completely out of whack now. does it seem odd to you we have these conversations on television when they don't bare relationship to that problem? >> yeah, it does. there is so much political demagoguery. both parties do this. i'm not saying we're all good and they're bad. the problem is no one wants to tackle this problem because they feel they will lose their next campaign. i'm sick of all of that. you look at the fact our budget is on an unsustainable trajectory. that is not the fault of just democrats or the fault of republicans. both parties are at fault for this. both parties have to fix this mess because our debt is going to catastrophic levels. we will have a debt crisis in this country. just so you know, the main programs of our government, medicare, medicaid and social security are all going bankrupt. they are growing themselves into extinction. you have to reform these programs for future generations if you are going to save these programs. the sooner we talk about how to do that, the better off we will be.
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>> getting erskin boles, great chief of staff for clinton, he did a great job. i think he's great. i think alan simpson is first rate. they are the head of the new deficit commission, the president's designated them. they don't have any constituency at home to worry about. they can draw out higher numbers for taxes, later retirement. they can have personal accounts, everything you might like, but they don't have to face the voters. the people you work with do. is there any way you could ever as long as you serve in congress get somebody to reduce the benefits of social security? change the formula? change the retirement age? pay for it? >> i do. >> when are people going to do this sort of thing when they want to run for re-election? >> chris, i introduced my bill that does these things you more or less mentioned, in 2008. i did this during the bush administration. i ran on this plan for re-election and won 64% in a district that went for dukakis,
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clinton and gore. and obama. so you can take on these issues. >> what kind of district do you have? you have a very, very high educated -- it's not a national public radio audience. it's something like that, though, suspect it? >> it's a district that listens to people when they tell them the truth. a lot of people may not agree with how i propose to fix the problem but they are open to fixing the problem. i spent a lot of time speaking to the people i represent about this fiscal mess that's coming down the pike. i put together a plan the cbo certifies makes medicare, medicaid and social security totally solvent and pays off our national debt and averts a tax crisis. you can't make this up by taxing. the spending is the source of the problem. the president, he and i have had good conversations, i hope those continue, but nowhere near the political landscape to tackle this problem. >> you know, i've been through this. i'm older than you. i've been through this watching this and being a staffer up there.
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ronald reagan in '86 in his second term talked about putting caps on colas and stuff like this to reduce the automatic group and entitlements like social security. he lost. paul hawkins got blown away. all the conservatives got blown away. it is called the third rail for a reason. >> right. >> if somebody signs on your to your legitimate proposals for balancing the budget at some point in the future they will lose elections because the voters do want something for nothing, don't they? you say they don't. >> no. >> you say they don't want something for nothing. i think they do. >> we have had this problem. if it was not what you said we would have fixed it already. what i propose and if we act soon, you can say to anybody in and near retirement, if you're 55 and over we're not going to change your benefits. if you're under 55, these are going away. 55 and under, let's reform them and make them sustainable. we want a sturdy and sustainable
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safety net in america for people with low income, for people who are sick. let's have that. have a system on top sustainable for future generations. if you act now you can make sure people in and near retirement, above 55 have no huge disruptions in their life. do it now, you won't hurt people in retirement and you'll save these programs. if you keep delaying entitlement reform all bets are off and people are going to have severe drum disruptions in their lives. >> it seems to me we are trying to with president obama match the social democracy of europe. >> that's right. >> i think that is a good idea. the problem is on top of our costs, any future costs that balance out or add to our costs, for this new health care program, we have the biggest military expenditure in the world. the sweeds don't have to pay for that. the germans don't have to pay for that. they don't like blue helmets over there. the brits don't have to. the french don't have to. everybody in the world we're
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trying to compete with in terms of social programming and social netting don't have the world-class military we have. every time you watch "meet the press," they have the latest helicopters, the latest fighter planes. we have all that stuff we're paying for. how can we have all that military cost and have a self-sustaining social welfare program in this country? how can we do it? without driving people crazy with higher taxes. >> defense spending is at its smallest amount percentage of gdp in years. here is your problem with your social democracy tact. i'll disagree with you on whether it's a good thing to have or not. we can't afford it with the demographics we've got. we're going from 40 million retirees to 80 million in one generation. birthrates are declining and health care rates are going up. 6% to 8%. mathematically, this pay as you go, social welfare state, social democracy agenda is fiscally unsustainable. you literally cannot tax your way out of this problem.
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it is a huge debt problem. you have greece going down, the pigs, portugal, italy, greece, spain, huge debt crises. we should not fool ourselves to think that should not come here. >> you have a heck of constituency. they must have ph.d.s. i don't know anybody that wants their taxes to go up or benefits to be cut. that's the nature of the beast. thank you, u.s. congressman paul ryan. i see why the president likes you or at least in theory. up next, charlie rangel steps down as chairman of the ways and means committee at least for a while, until the air is cleared if it does get cleared. home run! (announcer) he's sweet. even with one third less sugar than soda. kool-aid. delivering more smiles per gallon. she is the greatest thing ever. one little smile, one little laugh. honey bunny. [ babbles ] [ laughs ]
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welcome back to "hardball." democratic congressman charlie rangel decided to temporarily step down from his post as chairman of the ways and means
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committee today, 9:00 a.m. this morning he did it. >> in order to avoid my colleagues having to defend me during their elections, i have, this morning, sent a letter to speaker pelosi, asking her to grant me a leave of absence until such time as the ethics committee completes its work. >> republicans are ready to vote, to strip rangel of his chairmanship. in any way, they could, and the democratic support was eroding according to a lot of experts up there. one after the others, they were saying they did support the idea of hi stepping aside after the ethics committee had admonished him last week accepting corporate-sponsored travel to the caribbean, which is not a big deal compared to other stuff out there right now. the ethics committee still looking into a number of other allegations that they said that could be more trouble for the
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chairman. michelle bernard is an msnbc political analyst. glad to have her here tonight. and joe con zon, welcome back, a political reporter for the "new york observer." joe, great to have you on. we'll start with you. the news up in new york on this has been blistering now for months. what is it that has led, for example, "the new york times," i'm always skeptical of motive -- excuse me for that. i don't think all journalism is objective, why they have been pounding this guy. is it because of what he did or did he vote wrong on something? >> chris, i think it was journalism. i think they found a legitimate story on congressman rangel, which is that he seemed to have done a favor, originally, for somebody who was contributing money to a school named in his honor at city college. that was the original story, ran on the front page of "the times." and i think it was a legitimate story. it's a story that's not too different from similar types of stories that have come up over the last few years about trent lott, for instance, when he was a senate majority leader and
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mitch mcconnell, the current senate majority leader who has actually taken checks for an outfit named after him at the university of louisville. so this is a real story. >> vanity behavior? what would you say if you had to do a morality play. is it money grabbing or greed or vanity -- is it using your office to get more plodded? >> it's hubris, chris. and it's a common ailment among what we would call the old bulls down there. people who have been in power for long time. >> is it a firing offense, from your perspective, as a journalist? >> look, i think it would be if it were treated fairly. in other words, if everybody that did this kind of thing, that calls into questions their ethics were called on the carpet for it, yes. i can imagine, however, that congressman rangel feeling there's some double standard here because republicans have done the same thing and nobody has bothered them about it. >> yeah. michelle? >> the whole thing just makes -- he looks like a broken man. the whole thing makes me sad. it's journalism, it's a valid
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story, but just to have to watch this play out, charlie rangel is so beloved in new york. the congressional black caucus has been waiting for this moment for many, many, many years, but he didn't have a choice. he had to step aside. the president, the democratic party, and he as a member of the democratic party have so much at risk and republicans were calling for his head. this is the better, you know, way of power. >> well, the problem it seems to me, watching it as a journalist, and as a -- i've always liked charlie rangel, to be honest, i feel like recusing myself from this discussion. i've known him and really loved the guy for years. but the problem he faces is the facts right now. >> exactly. >> new information keeps coming out about it, let's be brutal here, checking accounts with $500,000 in each one, hadn't been disclosed. congress has the unique responsibility, unlike an average person filing on april 15th tax return and having to pay regular returns if you get different kinds of income. they have to be completely straight in terms of what they have. their assets. most of us don't have to do that.
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you have to list your assets. he hasn't been doing it accurately. your thoughts? is that going to pound way like a chinese water torch on this guy? to use a mixed med forfore? >> i think he stepped down and the speaker encouraged him to step down as well as probably other colleagues. as much as i'm sure they all love charlie rangel because there was nothing good to look forward to here for him. he had big problems and everybody knew it. >> you know, he had big -- >> should he plan to stick around or become a professor at nyu or something? >> depending on what comes down the pike -- >> i'm shurs. i think a lot of she's guys would be better off stepping aside at some point before you get into those problems that are exactly criminal, but they are problems. >> they're problems, and quite frankly, if anyone finds out that in doing these investigations that he's done anything that reaches to the level of criminal conduct, he's out of there. the problem for the democrats is, what happens if stark actually comes in and takes his place? >> we'll talk about stark, that's a whole other story. dean stark is a piece of work,
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which we're all going to be learning. thank you, michelle bernard, thank you, joe. always good to have you on. when we return, i'll have some thoughts about why president obama is dead right on health care reform. (announcer) powering that fan is one little battery... and if you think all batteries are the same... consider this: at iowa lakes community college, the students learn to keep america's wind turbines going and to keep them safe, the only battery they trust in their high voltage meters are duracell rechargeables. so whether you're responsible for tomorrow... or enjoying today... it just has to work.
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let me finish tonight on a topic that's dominated this capital city for months now. it won't surprise anyone who watches this program regularly that i agree with the president on health care. he says we need reform and i believe he's right. we can argue endlessly about how
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to do it or how far to go and may never reach agreement, the important thing is to get off the dime. look, if you or i get into a car accident and we're out there bleeding on a highway, we still have hope. we hope and even trust that an ambulance is coming and that we'll get wheeled into an emergency room where doctors and nurses will do their best to save us. the same is true if we have a heart attack or a stroke. we have this hope because with our cowboy individualism in this country, we know when it comes down to it, bad things happen and no matter how tough we are, we need a doctor and need one bad and we get one. but today we use our emergency rooms as clinics for people who can't afford doctors and who sit for hours in our e.r.s because our hospitals can't turn away a person in need. i'm for national health reform because i believe we need to grow up as a country, get adults enrolled in an insurance plan, begin sharing the cost of insurance between the healthy and not so healthy, the young and not so young. we need to start acting like americans, responsible citizens who are willing to insist on taking responsibility for our health care to the full extent
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of our ability. we can make changes as we go along. we can add a public option at some point. the important thing is to grow up and put away the childish notion that if we're really lucky, we're never going to need a doctor. and if anything happens, we can take care of ourselves. well, the president says we need health care reform and the president is right. "countdown with keith olbermann" starts right now. which of these stories will you be talking about tomorrow? the way forward. after a year of debate and gop mind games, president obama gives a final push on health care. he calls for an up or down vote and says the time is now. >> i believe the united states congress owes the american people a final vote on health care reform. meanwhile, the republicans dig in. senate minority leader mitch